Warming up before a run is important in two ways: it prepares you mentally for the exercise ahead, and it’s a great way to protect your body against injury. A warm up will do several important things for your body, including:
- Improve blood flow throughout your body
- Make your muscles more flexible
- Get your heart and lungs ready for the increased workload to come
- Improve your body movements and coordination
The best way to warm up before a run has long been debated by runners, doctors, trainers, and many others involved with exercise. At New Heights, we want everyone to feel comfortable with their chosen form of exercise. We’ll work with you to figure out exactly how your body prefers to warm up!
Do I need to warm up before exercise?
Warming up your muscles before you use them vigorously during a run or other physical activity significantly reduces the risk of joint and muscle injury. Your body needs to be limber and flexible before doing any intense movement, and a warm up is not a matter of personal preference. It’s a necessity!
Can you warm up with stretches?
Many people opt for basic dynamic stretches for their pre-running routine. Dynamic stretches keep you moving, helping to warm up your body while lengthening your muscle fibers. Prior to a run, focus on stretches for your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Don’t forget your arms! Do some shoulder rolls and arm circles.
Can you warm up with a light jog?
Some experts in the field disagree with stretching before a run, arguing that because muscles are still cold and inflexible, stretching before working out is a terrible idea. Instead, they prefer to walk or jog slowly for a few minutes. A slow start with your run can prepare your body for larger movements. By mimicking the same movements during your warm up that you plan to use for the main part of your exercise, you will be prepping your muscles with minimal impact. You could also try jumping rope or performing walking lunges.
Which warm up option is right for you?
As long as you are safely performing dynamic stretches or light cardio, either option can be the right choice for your warm up. You might try doing one warm up for a week or so, paying attention to your body, and then switch methods for another week.
Choose the option that most appeals to you. The longer you run, the more easily you will be able to tell what feels best, and which type of warm up decreases soreness both during and after your run.
A physical therapist can help you develop habits and goals for exercise that will work with your body. At New Heights Physical Therapy, our specialists can watch you run, examining your stride and looking at previous injuries to help you make changes to your running pattern. With our help, you can start running more comfortably and create a lifelong healthy habit!